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Well, this is it, the last day of the universe according to the Mayan calendar. Supposedly this is when everything will get interesting; in the Mayan mythos, our existence is on a pendulum which swings every few thousand years, velocity indicating the strength of the scientific in one direction and magical in the other. Today is when it is at rest at the apex, where the velocity is zero.

The recent nanotechnology breakthroughs, I think, are the technological precursors, perhaps the harbringers, of the gradual but blindingly fast shift. There will be great battles of magic, in the form of little tiny robots precariously under our control, able to do what we program into them. They are our telepathy, remote eyes into others' lives and thoughts, they are our clairvoyance, with the ability to network and make predictions based on the low-level subatomic interactions between particles en masse. They are our changeling power, our means of exceeding our cumbersome macroscopic shortcomings.

Here's to those interesting times I was cursed to live in.

I am ready.

New translations of the Mayan myths suggest that the world is supposed to be reconstructed on this date, rather than destroyed. Don't ask me how this is going to be different (or better) than destruction. I just hope we're done with everything by then...

And suddenly, my knee throbs with a deep, dull hurting and a few vertebrae feel as though they've been rotated 90 degrees.

It's been a cold winter already, but these ragged pains are not on account of weather. They're phantoms from times and places I thought I had long excommunicated from easy reach.

Word gets back to me through a friend that another friend I haven't heard from in a few months recently went out on a solitary hike to clear his mind after reading that US forces are finally leaving Afghanistan after 11 years.

He took a rucksack with him, with a canteen and an old surplus sleeping bag and a tarp, a change of clothes, and a couple MREs.

He also took a Ruger Alaskan in .454 Casull, a six shot, snub nosed revolver designed and proven to stop a charging grizzly bear in its tracks.

On the third morning of his outing, he woke up and called a friend while the water for his morning coffee was boiling. He told his friend where to find his will, what to do with his father's watch for whom there was no heir, and then he hung up and didn't answer any calls for the remainder of his morning.

After finishing his instant coffee, he put the barrel of the gun in his mouth and pulled the trigger.

He had served three tours in Afghanistan, the shortest of which was 13 months. He was stabbed, shot, blown up, and lit on fire in four separate incidents. He was fond of remarking that he didn't think he was being made to feel very welcome.

One winter, he spent almost half of his yearly salary, out of his own pocket, to order winter coats for every child in a village near our FOB. That following spring was the one where they lit him on fire, and two of the four attackers were from the same village.

The following summer, one eyebrow not yet grown back, he coordinated with churches and schools in his hometown to put together 500 backpacks full of school supplies for the kids he'd recently clothed, in hopes that the schoolhouse would stay not-blown-up long enough to have them attend.

This man whose heart was big enough to fit the children of the world inside had no children of his own. His difficulties in conceiving were due to scarring following his first tour of duty, the one where "they tried to blow my nuts off but only got some skin."

His wife left him in the middle of his third tour because he "ain't a real man, can't even knock up a willing woman!"

He gave everything he had to give for a cause he believed in. He poured his heartblood and sinew into saving children whose entire country had failed. And it still wasn't enough to break him when his country failed him, too, when they dragged their feet on his medical care, when they stonewalled him behind budget cuts, policy restrictions, and modifications.

It wasn't enough to watch his family crumble over the divorce. It wasn't enough to have his congregation turn their backs on him as a divorcer and a possible queer.

But it was enough when his life's work was reduced to nothing in a heartbeat and a penstroke, when years of wandering and foolish foreign policy were swept under the rug like a dog turd at a holiday party, our fearless leaders like sheepish hosts, our American public accommodating guests pretending they didn't see the maneuver and that they can't smell the smears of dogshit on shoe heels.

I'm not going to have any friends left at this rate.

They'll wonder why I did it.

They don't believe that the world is coming to an end, all of them. Well, they do believe, but not really. Mom told me about it. "It will come like a thief in the night, with people taking and giving and giving in marriage, the way they always do. They won't listen."

But I always did. I could read early on, and I would see the newspapers, always, by the checkout counter, always telling me about Nostradamus and Jesus and global warming. I knew that it was going to be this year, this month. Mom told me we were prepared. But I wasn't sure.

I was never strong, or brave. Other kids hated me, because I was so weak. I tried becoming strong, but it was no use. I knew if I was to become strong, I could save Mom. So I used to watch all the action movies, and played video games, trying to make myself brave enough. Mom laughed at me. I didn't like to hear her laugh. "You're just my little boy, watching movies all day and playing. A strong young man would be outdoors."

It's dangerous out there. We live in a place outside of town, where there are coyotes and stuff, and where bad people could be hiding. That's why we have guns, and a panic room. Someone could take me hostage and take Mom's money. Someone could rape Mom.

When the hurricane came, we were the only ones with power. I sat all night listening to the radio, hearing how it was gay marriage and greenhouse gases that brought this down on us. Then I watched "The Road" again, my favorite movie. We would never eat people though. But I was worried I was going to be weak.

When Mom found out about the burns on my arm, she said she'd put me away. She always says that, when I try to be strong. But she forgot about it the next day, and took me out to the shooting range so we could fire the Bushmaster. You see the web site? Bushmaster rifles give you back your man card. But we had to go past the school.

I feel sorry for all the kids. Their parents don't care for them the way Mom did. They don't have a basement full of supplies, or a panic room, you see, or any guns. They'll grow up in Hell, like the people in "The Road". That's when I decided to save them.

So that's why I did what I did. I saved Mom first, and then the kids, and then me. I figured a week before would be good. I feel strong and brave, and maybe I'm going to Heaven.

But they'll wonder why I did it. For a few days, anyway.

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